I hear so much education for adults on health, nutrition, and exercise. And there are targeted programs for young children as well to learn about healthy eating and proper food choices. But what about the teenager population?
A few days ago the CDC produced the results of a survey that they sent nationwide (within the US) to high school students, in which they got just over 114k results, and the results were rather shocking, I must say. It showed that only 8% of high school girls get the recommended 60 minutes of aerobic exercise whereas 22% of boys hit the mark. Not doing enough physical activity when you are younger can shape your attitude towards physical activity, and can lead to an adult that doesn’t work out. Plus, it can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes later on.
Other shocking results were related to nutrition, and honestly it made me a little sad. 63% of respondents said that they drink at least one soda a day (that was full calorie soda, but as we know diet soda is no better for you in the case of Type II diabetes) and 33% report drinking two or more sodas a day. There are tons of choices of water, milk, and juice in schools, which the teens are also drinking, but then they tend to reach for the sodas! This also becomes a lifestyle choice, just like lack of exercise, and can be a really hard habit to break.
These choices come from home, peer influence, and from education. I think that we are not doing a good enough job educating children and teens on nutrition in schools, and reinforcing that information or helping to shape the education at home either. If we all cooked healthy foods and stocked out homes with fruits and veggies and organic meats, taught our kids about a healthy diet and fed it to them, they would learn at home, and it would become how they eat. BUT I totally get that I am thinking in an ideal world where money grows on trees, people don’t have to work, and we have time to cook three healthy meals a day!!
I understand in the real world, where money can be an influence, that unhealthy food tends to be cheaper, but if the choice comes down to buying your family a fast food meal, or buying a loaf of whole wheat bread organic peanut butter and some preserves? The PB&J is healthier, cheaper, and will feed your family for longer…plus you can spend time together making your “meal” which includes whole grains, proteins, and fruit. That is something that you can teach your kids! Also, fruits and veg are really cheap at local farms, and even if you live in the city, look for farmers markets; it’s the time when farmers are bringing their goods closer to you!!
I also want to encourage you to walk to the markets or ride bikes…WITH YOUR KIDS! Exercising together can encourage them to make healthier choices on their own; we really need to lead by example with our children, especially with things that will allow them to be healthier and prevent disease later in life. Tat is part of having a cild; keeping them healthy and safe, and teaching them how to be an adult. So, while schools might be missing the mark on educating them, and their friends parents might not be doing their part, YOU can do yours, and bring up the healthiest child you can!
Start at home….and maybe there will be a new teen exercise program in the Boston area soon (email me and let me know your thoughts)!
Yours in Good Health